Julie Anne Smith Encourages Abuse Victims

   "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin."

Luke 17:2 (ESV)

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Greenwich_CT_millstone.JPG/320px-Greenwich_CT_millstone.JPG

Millstone (Wikimedia)

Earlier this year Julie Anne Smith, a sister in Christ on the West Coast, contacted Dee and me out of the blue.  We couldn't believe our eyes when we read that she was being sued by her former pastor / church for a whopping $500,000.  Her blogger profile gives a brief overview of her predicament and why she began the BGBCSurvivor website (BGBC = Beaverton Grace Bible Church).

Julie Anne explains:

I began this blog in Feb. 2012 after noticing that the Google reviews I had posted of my former church were being removed. Days after the commencement of this blog, I received a legal summons suing me and three others for defamation to the tune of $500,000. The story of spiritual abuse needs to be told. People are being hurt emotionally and spiritually by pastors who use bully tactics and we need a place to learn, to talk freely, and to heal. I will not be silenced. ****Update: 7/26/12 Case was dismissed. We won! E-mail address: bgbcsurvivors@gmail.com

Dee summarized her story in a post entitled Julie Anne Smith Prevails Against Her Former Church, which you can read here.  As you might imagine, Julie Anne's story went viral in the press, and she had no choice but to defend herself to a watching world.  Having come through that terrible experience successfully, Julie Anne is a staunch defender of those who have been abused in some way.  She is a regular commenter here and also frequents SGM Survivors and SGM Refuge.  

Julie Anne recently wrote an encouraging post to abuse victims, and she has given us permission to republish it for our readership. 


A Word of Encouragement to Abuse Victims Who Use Civil Litigation (link)

My heart really goes out to victims and their families in abuse cases (domestic violence, child abuse, and sex abuse) and I have a huge amount of respect for those who, when realizing that the problem is much bigger than their own personal situation, risk so much by taking it to a new level by getting legal help and filing a lawsuit.   This takes an enormous amount of time, energy, money, and emotional strength because it means revisiting the horrific events and recalling the details.  It's not easy to rehash the unfathomable abuses, but sometimes people get to that point when they realize that similar abuses will continue to go on unless they speak out.  These are true heroes.  This action is not for their own personal gain.  These folks are sacrificing much to protect others from having to go through this difficult path. 

One of the difficulties in church abuse cases is that the abuse is labeled as "sin". Of course these abuses are called "sin" and pastors know how to deal with "sin" biblically.  However, sometimes "sin" is not looked at with the same eyes that those outside of church would look at it.  For example, in the secular world, sex abuse would be first and foremost labeled as a crime.  But for some reason in some churches, this criminal aspect is overlooked.  Church leaders sometimes attempt to only focus on the sin aspect of it.  They try to apply "biblical" forgiveness and reconciliation, forsaking obvious biblical verses regarding governing authorities:

 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.  (Romans 13:1-7 ESV)

Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of  God.  (1 Peter 2:13-16 ESV). 

So, to those who have made this bold step, I want to publicly thank you for representing the voices of so many victims who have no voice because of the pain they are or have endured.  I want to reassure you that you are taking the right step Biblically.

There may be naysayers who will give you this verse to try to justify what you are doing is wrong or to shame your actions.  Take special note of the words I highlighted in bold font:

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?(1 Corinthians 6:1-6 ESV)

The verse above mentions "trivial cases".  Abuse cases that are being brought before the civil courts are certainly not trivial cases.  When abuse occurs, lives can be damaged both emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  Talk to any abuse victim and see how many years it takes to heal.  The memories can last a lifetime.  Not only are they victimized once by the perpetrator, but they are  re-victimized by church leaders/pastors when church leaders fail to appropriately deal with "sin" as crimes. 

The following quote is from an article interviewing Attorney Kelly Clark, child sex abuse attorney, who represented more than 100 men who were former Boy Scouts:

Clark said he represents more than 100 men who as children were in the Boy Scouts, and he estimates that more than 50% of his clients have drug or alcohol problems. At least three of them have committed suicide, he said.

Indeed, as Clark discussed the result of sex abuse in the above quote, these are NOT trivial cases, but cases which must be brought before the civil courts if churches are overlooking and mishandling sex abuse crimes.  How do you put a price tag on three precious lives lost to suicide? 

I have deep admiration for attorneys who involve themselves in cases of abuse and represent victims.  In reading spiritual abuse stories, sometimes I catch myself tearing up and have actually sobbed a number of times – especially the stories where there is multiple abuse going on:  sexual abuse, spousal abuse, spiritual abuse.   Some attorneys do this on a daily basis.  They hear so many tragic stories. 

Attorney Gilion Dumas is a partner at O'Donnell Clark & Crew LLP, attorneys known for representing abuse victims.  Her firm has represented victims of the large Boy Scouts of America sex abuse case in the news for the past couple years.  Simply type "Kelly Clark and Boy Scouts" in your search engine and you will not believe how many links come up on this case, it seems to be endless. 

Here is a short video clip of Gilion talking about "Tough Love" for Institutions We Trust.  It's less than one minute and is important for victims to hear.

Attorneys like Dumas, Clark, and Susan Burke who represents the the victims in the Sovereign Grace Ministries lawsuit are doing a fantastic job of bringing justice to groups and organizations who have woefully mishandled abuse cases, often preventing the abuse cases from getting into the hands of civil authorities.  Thank God for them and the work they do.

To the victims who seek justice through civil litigation:  you are helping to change the faulty systems.  You are doing the right thing.  You may be hiding behind a pseudonym in a lawsuit.  You may not be able to tell your story to others because of the lawsuit, but you are doing such a powerful act by filing a lawsuit.  

There's a possibility that you might feel abandoned in this process.  I hope you know that on this blog, people do care about you and pray for you.  The lawsuit is not only for your benefit, but will benefit many others who might fall victim to sex abuse in churches where there are little or no safeguards in place or where church leaders minimize or turn a blind eye to sex abuse, child abuse, domestic abuse activity going on in their midst.  You will never know how many victims you have saved by speaking out.  Just as the Penn State and the Boy Scouts cases are highlighting mishandling of sex abuse in institutions, you are bringing this to light in church settings.  This is so important.  Thank you!  Our hearts and prayers are with you!

 

Lydia's Corner:   Numbers 4:1-5:31   Mark 12:18-37   Psalm 48:1-14   Proverbs 10:26

Comments

Julie Anne Smith Encourages Abuse Victims — 106 Comments

  1. Its a hard slap in the face when you realize that churches guilt others to NOT bring a lawsuit at times when you realize they do so just to cover their own behinds.

    Great article Julie Anne, and so many truths!

  2. Julie Anne, thank you for all your work for abuse victims of every kind and thank you for standin up against da bad guys with courage and spiced with snarky spunk!
    You Rock!!

  3. Deb – Thank you for publishing this here. It can be such a lonely place for victims. We need to walk through the trenches with these precious folks. They should not be alone as they deal with this stuff. I am so thankful for you and Dee who walked with me in my very difficult time and encouraged me.

    Muckraker – - Reading so many abuse stories makes me sad and angry. So, when I deal with “da bad guys” as you say on my blog, the snarky-ness finds its way in my posts. I can’t mince words when it comes to abuse anymore. I can’t deal with such arrogant self-appointed leaders anymore when I know people are hurting.

  4. That is a great video … thanks for including that in the post, Julie Anne. It makes me think:

    We who have been victimized become signs that the organization is failing.

    We who tell our stories give evidence of its need for change.

    We who stand together create a stronger call for accountability.

    Even in our wounded state, our stories are prophetic, our presence is that of a prophet, our gathering forms a “school of prophets.” If our messages are heeded, then there is greater hope that next generations will find themselves in lesser mess.

    And so, regardless of how we may feel, or how far we have healed, our lives become part of a providentially redemptive outcome …

  5. How do those who abuse, especially those who do it in churches, misuse the name of God & try to get others to cover their misdeeds, not tremble before God? I find it hard to believe they can be so blase…
    I am so delighted that people are now being heard & believed, & that those who have been enormously complicit in revictimisation are being outed as the hypocrites they are.

  6. ” Reading so many abuse stories makes me sad and angry. So, when I deal with “da bad guys” as you say on my blog, the snarky-ness finds its way in my posts. I can’t mince words when it comes to abuse anymore. I can’t deal with such arrogant self-appointed leaders anymore when I know people are hurting”

    Exactly!!!!

  7. Eagle,

    Look at it this way. By advertising those partnerships on their website, you will know which churches to avoid like the plague… Good for you for doing your homework.

  8. Julie Anne,
    Thank you for all your work and your heart of compassion for the hurting. You are a woman of courage!

  9. Eagle you are correct about the current direction of the efree church. I left one a year ago after a 5 year theological shift to Calvinism. My old church draws directly from the gospel coalition for everything now.

  10. Eagle,

    It seems like you’ve already been turned off to RHC – good! A quick look at their Membership Application and Covenant triggers a number of different warning flags. Super controlling, cult-like requirements of your time, very young leadership, etc.

    Interestingly, right as my wife and I left the Acts 29 church we were a part of (because of the lack of repentance on the part of the leaders regarding spiritual abuse), the leadership issued a revised membership document. This document’s explanation of what pastors/elders are supposed to do is almost word-for-word the same as the membership document on RHC’s site. Perhaps it’s an Acts29 template that they distribute to their churches.

    Also, how funny that their “What We Believe” page uses the word “Gospel” more than the New Testament does! Every other paragraph. (I get so sick of the Calvinista’s misuse of the term).

    I’m disappointed that the EFCA seems to have allowed TGC and Acts 29 to begin infiltrating EFCA-affiliated churches. Not sure how that happened. I do know that there are a vocal minority of Calvinistas at the official EFCA seminary up in Deerfield, IL (and of course D.A. Carson and, formerly, Grudem).

  11. Eagle, if you are interested in visiting churches, I would recommend visiting a traditional (liturgical) Missouri Synod Lutheran church. (I recommend it naturally, because LCMS is my denomination.

    There are other good Lutheran denominations as well, like NALC and LCMC.

    To answer a possible objection ahead of time, Martin Luther’s sometimes violent writings against various people (including Jews) form no part of Lutheran theology, and are repudiated by all modern Lutheran denominations. (We do not regard him as infallible.)

    If you would like to read up on what I consider to be good and Biblical theology, I would naturally recommend studying the Book of Concord (which contains the Lutheran confessions.)

    And know that it is not necessary for salvation to be a creationist or an inerrantist.

  12. Thanks Eagle. I did know you were an agnostic.

    What answers you get to those questions will depend on who you ask.

    But to answer your question about “genocide” in the OT, I assume you are referring to the Canaanites. The OT says that this was God’s judgement on the Canaanites, and that He waited until their iniquity was full before ordering the Israelites to wipe them out. Just like God used the flood to judge the entire world, and brimstone to judge Sodom and Gomorrah, He used the Israelite sword to judge the Canaanites. Later God would use the sword of the Assyrians and Babylonians to judge Israel. You may not like this answer, but it is the only honest one. God reserves the right to judge and punish His creation.

    For further elaboration on this point, watch this video: http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=3262

    This is all I have to say on the subject.

  13. One more thing, the God who judges and punishes His people from above is the same God who allowed Himself to be beaten, nailed to a cross, and killed as a man in order to purchase the salvation of His people.

  14. Eagle

    I am from the midwest so I can’t speak for the rest of the country. I think TEDS has gotten in bed with the calvinist theology, and it has trickled down as new pastors leave the seminary. I think all of these different organizations will combine into one large organization/denomination eventually. The new calvinist direction of the efca caused me a year of agnosticism and I had to dig deep into pre-reformation theology to regain my faith. I am currently in a conservative ELCA church and am happy with the high church liturgy and moderate political stance.

  15. Something that, [nerd alert]to paraphrase Tolkien[/nerd alert], grieves me more than many things that might seem worse, is found in one of the points of commitment in the RH membership covenant. It’s found in a lot of similar lists, as well, and it is the interpretation of Hebrews 13:17 to mean:

    I will not function in leadership or as a member in another church family

    In other words, the church in any given city is divided into separate “church families” that are to be self-contained, self-sufficient and isolated from each other. This belief is the single biggest contributing factor behind spiritual abuse and bullying within the church. Because of it, the leaders (in the broadest sense of the word) of one “church family” are not in any meaningful spiritual relationship with those of any other, and have no realistic local accountability. They cannot, therefore, set a true example in word and deed regarding submission to authority, because they themselves are not submitted within the local church. They are at best submitted to a remote denominational hierarchy with which they have little day-to-day relationship, and at worst, accountable only to a selected network of (to quote Park Fiscall) “their buddies who agree with them”.

    On a related note, I have to wonder what

    I will not be divisive over secondary issues

    means, given that the same verse is quoted against it. The implication is that “I will agree unconditionally with the leaders here on secondary issues”, meaning that the leaders have authority to make definitive pronouncements on secondary issues and to exclude people from membership over them. In other words, the RH leadership are themselves being divisive over secondary issues.

    I’m sorry, my dear friends, but I cannot accept that to be mature Christianity.

  16. @Eagle et al – the church I’m attending is an efree church, and I haven’t seen any hint of complementarianism or control. Believe me, if I do, I’ll run as fast for the hills as I can.

  17. What’s the matter, Anon 1? Don’t like James White? A lot of people hate him, including Roman Catholics, Arminians, fundamentalists, Mormons, atheists, liberals, Muslims, Southern Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. I’m guessing you hate anyone who’s a Calvinist.

  18. Interestingly, right as my wife and I left the Acts 29 church we were a part of (because of the lack of repentance on the part of the leaders regarding spiritual abuse), the leadership issued a revised membership document. This document’s explanation of what pastors/elders are supposed to do is almost word-for-word the same as the membership document on RHC’s site. Perhaps it’s an Acts29 template that they distribute to their churches. — Mr.H

    “Template” or “Party Line Manifesto”?

    Also, how funny that their “What We Believe” page uses the word “Gospel” more than the New Testament does! Every other paragraph. (I get so sick of the Calvinista’s misuse of the term). — Mr.H

    Just like “People’s” and “Democratic” in all the PR from Third World Dictators. That’s so common it’s even on TV Tropes: “People’s Republic of Tyranny”, where the more adjectives about Democracy there are in a country’s official name, the nastier a dictatorship it is.

  19. Nicholas, hating people is sin. Disagreeing with doctrine or methods does not automaticatically mean ‘hate’. I do think James White is thriiled that all those groups might ‘hate’ him. He might even view it as persecution.

    I find him tiresome.

  20. Sorry for accusing you of ‘hating’ him. I shouldn’t have said that.

    Although I’m not Reformed, I consider James White an excellent apologist.

  21. “Although I’m not Reformed, I consider James White an excellent apologist”

    Nicholas, Thanks for apologizing. I find the above kind of confusing. He is an apologist using Reformed doctrine to defend.

  22. Well, I think his work on Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, Islam, the Trinity, Sola Scriptura, justification, etc. is profitable.

    As a Lutheran, I would agree with him on monergism over against synergism. But Lutherans believe only in single predestination over against the double predestination of Calvinism. Lutherans believe that the elect are predestined to salvation, but that the rest are only condemned on account of their own rejection of God. Lutherans also reject limited atonement, which James White believes. So I don’t agree with White on everything. Lutherans don’t try to go beyond what Scripture has revealed.

    White is also a Baptist, so there is even more I disagree with him on.

    But you are right, White does consider all of his books to be Reformed rather than just Christian or evangelical in general.

  23. Eagle–one thing Arminian theology frees up for a lot of folks is the problem of evil.

    In the Arminian system, God grants us free will.

    We tend to like that idea, but not like the idea God gives others free will also.

    I don’t like the idea of children hurt by monstrous people any more than you do. But it isn’t God hurting them, it is the perpetrator.

    Could God stop it? Yes, and in my humanness I want God to protect my loved one’s by doing so.

    But to do that, wouldn’t God have to become the Calvinist God and take away the free will of the perp to do so?

    Also, many Arminians do NOT believe any go to hell “just because they never heard of Christ.” They WILL be judged by the light the have, and the scriptures tell us nature gives light where there isn’t the law or scripture.

    Some believes some of those folks will be saved. Others believe all of them will reject what little light they do have and be judged for that. Still others tend to see God making sure all who would have accepted Christ get the opportunity to hear of him.

  24. Linda, I agree with the Arminian rejection of determinism, which says that every single event was purposely predetermined by God.

    Also, it is very true that God gives light where there is no law or scripture. We dare not make pronouncements on the eternal destinies of all those who passed on.

  25. You know Eagle, you don’t have to throw out the Almighty altogether, you can craft your own theology too, just as many of us have done. My own would read like a Declaration of Independence from the Medieval Reformers Calvin & Luther as well as present day Evangelicals.

    @ linda,
    I think that with a vast majority of the evil that occurs in this life, God is not in control. We are. Hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes? Nope, we can’t do Jack about them, but the rest? We sure can. Quite an awesome responsibility for beings created in the image of the Almighty. Wouldn’t you agree?

  26. I am just now reading Eagle story of his background, as it was in moderation before.

    “Fundamentalist” is the proper word for people who teach that the faith hinges on secondary doctrines like YEC and Dispensationalism (pre-tribulation rapture). And Dispensationalism is so clearly heretical that it’s not even funny. It’s rejected by all of Christendom except for the Baptistic/evangelical/fundamentalist/nondenominational wing of the church. It was founded by a sectarian fundamentalist named John Nelson Darby who taught that all of Christendom was apostate except for him. No serious Biblical scholar would argue that the Bible actually teaches it. It is popular in the EFCA though.

    YEC is also clearly wrong. Ken Ham deserves the label of fundamentalist with all the opprobrium that the label carries for claiming that Christianity hinges on YEC.

    The whole “testimonies” thing is definitely a part of revivalistic modern evangelical/fundamentalist “Christianity.” Any “Christianity” that does not recognize the continued sinfulness of the believer is a false Christianity. Those evangelical hypocrites will claim to but they embellish their “testimonies.”

    I can only be glad that I have left “evangelicalism” behind.

  27. Speaking of Dispensationlism, Jeri Massi has written a good article about it’s accompanying heresy, Christian Zionism: http://jeriwho.net/lillypad2/?p=199

    Driven by this heresy, evangelical and fundamentalist pseudo-Christians support the displacement of the Palestinians.

  28. @ Nicholas:

    “And Dispensationalism is so clearly heretical that it’s not even funny.”

    I personally agree that Dispensationalism is incorrect, but I wouldn’t use the term “heretical” – it implies that you can’t accept Dispensationalism and still be saved. I know this isn’t what you meant, but “heresy” packs a big punch and should be reserved for things that truly deserve it (like husbands being “high priest” mediators between Jesus and their wives).

  29. Your right, I didn’t mean it in that way.

    Does Piper teach that husbands are mediators between God and their wives?

  30. Getting Requests for Funding To a Broader Community

    Julie Anne:

    I’m glad that things worked out in the end, and your case did get much publicity. My only suggestion to you and others (especially those whose cases have to remain confidential, to a degree, because minors are involved) is getting requests for funding to the general public or a broader audience of some kind (e.g. friends of friends through a specific e-mail link).

    My site of preference for obtaining group funding is http://gofundme.com, a site that will accept any cause and is professional-looking/taken seriously because it charges a 5% fee and can afford to be a true business.

    Even though I’m not an evangelical and imagine we disagree about many issues, I’m onboard with believing that sexual abuse and legal intimidation pertaining to it is not acceptable in any context.

    I’d have given you $100 and not cared if you used it to pay a lawyer or get a hard drink.

    I know others, including Jewish friends, who say the same thing. They don’t want to be deeply involved in a sexual abuse church situation but have no problem anonymously donating money to help victims.

    Just something to consider. :-)

  31. Nicholas,
    I think it’s instructive to remember that ‘heresy’ is just a synonym for ‘dissenter’, and yet the word ‘dissenter’ will not conjure up the negative connotations that ‘heresy’ will. In that vein I too am a heretic because I dissent from the doctrine of Original Sin and it’s corollary of Penal Substitution.

    We all bring our own presuppositions to the Biblical narrative or simply regurgitate the ones we’ve been told to believe by others. About a decade ago, I no longer saw an angry God at the fall of humankind, one who demands that a penalty be paid, but rather a horrified and heartsick parent who watched his beautiful kids !#&k up the very beams of creation.

    My approach to the Biblical narrative has never been the same since.

  32. Muff, I really appreciate the comments you’re making on this thread.

    Nicholas, I wonder if maybe – as a couple of folks have suggested – you might want to think about dissent vs., say “heresy”? (As Hester said, “heresy” is a *very* loaded word, with extremely negative connotations.)

    I think dissent from prevailing views is something that’s implicit in the Gospel narratives, perhaps the best example being how Jesus treated people who were viewed as pariahs/outcasts at very best. (People with disfiguring illnesses, gentiles, women, the poor, the ceremonially “unclean”… I think we can all fill in the blanks.)

  33. Thanks guys. I’ll be careful not to throw out the word “heresy” regarding secondary doctrines.

    Muff Potter, regarding your theology, I wish I had the time and expertise to give a proper response (I am just a 23 year old college student). I will suggest that you committ further study to the book of Romans, especially chapter five. I strongly believe that original sin and penal subsitution are Biblical and central to the Gospel message. Whatever the personal defects of the Early Church Fathers, Medieval Theologians, and Protestant Reformers, they knew what they were talking about. We do stand on the shoulders of giants. Let us not throw out the baby with the bath water.

  34. Thanks guys. I’ll be careful not to throw out the word “heresy” regarding secondary doctrines. — Nicholas

    Back in the Eighties, I was explaining “heresy” to someone with little Chrisian background and he answered “Oh — it’s Criminal Misrepresentation.” That remains the best non-Christianese definition I’ve ever come across. If God or Christ could have grounds for criminal misrepresentation, it’s Heresy.

    That said, I think Darbyite Dispy Pre-Mil and its “Secret Rapture” is a destructive secondary doctrine which has caused much confusion and destruction and despair. “By their fruits ye shall know them,” and Dispy’s fruits have not been good.

    Last year when the subject came up at Internet Monk, one of the current moderators speculated that Dispensationalism is fallout from the Age of Reason and Industrial Revolution, when the Bible was viewed as a technical instruction manual of FACT FACT FACT instead of the collection of Old Old Stories of encounters with God. Not stories but technical information.

    Darby apparently tried to reconcile ALL apparent discrepancies in the entire Bible by splitting the discrepancies off into separate chronological “dispensations” for complete internal consistency in all details. Almost obsessively converting the Bible into a one-volume engineering manual of FACT FACT FACT.

    And there was some Dispy named “Dake” who was obsessive-compulsive way farther than Darby.

  35. Nicholas, I dont think Muff needs a proper response and I’ll bet that MP is already familiar with the book of Romans. I’d venture a guess that he (she?, sorry, I don’t know) is also pretty familiar with the doctrines of original sin and penal substitutionary atonement. Sometimes a person rejects an idea because they DO understand it.

    I am curious – why you feel the need to give a “proper response”? Are you concerned that MP’s afterlife is in danger? Or do you feel that it is your responsiblity to encourage correct doctrine when you encounter incorrect doctrine?

    I am much closer to MP’s age than yours, Nicholas. And I will tell you this FWIW. I have never believed in PSA. Never. Even when I didn’t know that there was any alternative, I didn’t believe it. All these people running around, building organizations, preaching, preaching, working tirelessly, and for what? To tell people that they deserved to die. But if they believe in Jesus they will not endure eternal conscious torment. And the most important thing in life is to tell other people the same thing. Why? So they can tell more people. Lather, rinse, repeat. Really? There is a God who creates a universe, gives life and makes life diverse, beautiful and meaningful. And that’s God’s master plan? Doesn’t sound right to me, and I don’t care what doctrines have been made from interpreting the Bible.

    I think I do understand you at least a little, Nicholas. I spent quite a few years of my life wanting to know what life is about and wanting to be right. I think I’ll be spending the remaining years I have being honest instead of right. And enjoying the life I am experiencing not the one someone else writes about. They probably don’t know any more than I do.

  36. @ Nicholas:

    As far as I know Piper doesn’t teach that. However, many of the hardcore patriarchs (ala Doug Phillips) do. They rarely state it that bluntly, but it is implied in the notion that husbands are “prophet, priest and king” of their home. I have heard that the Botkin sisters said in a conference session that they could not be saved without a male intermediary, and the person who reported that said several people walked out of the session muttering “heresy” under their breath…which in this case would be completely appropriate.

  37. @ HUG & Nicholas:

    Unfortunately for Dispensationalists, their theology has an expiration date…literally. Its original definition of “generation” was 40 years, and they claimed the end would come 40 years after Israel got its land back (as the generation that saw this happen would not pass away per Matthew 24:34). Israel got its land back in 1948 and the original prediction (see 88 Reasons the Rapture Will Be in 1988) was a huge flop. From what I’ve read, the definition of “generation” has been massaged to be as long as 100 years, but that’s stretching it to the breaking point. So Dispensationalism is literally on borrowed time. 36 more years to be exact.

  38. @ HUG:

    “Last year when the subject came up at Internet Monk, one of the current moderators speculated that Dispensationalism is fallout from the Age of Reason and Industrial Revolution, when the Bible was viewed as a technical instruction manual of FACT FACT FACT instead of the collection of Old Old Stories of encounters with God. Not stories but technical information.”

    Or – if you ask 12 dispensationalists who all take Revelation “in the clear literal sense,” you will get 12 different narratives of the end times…because Revelation is so clear and literal.

  39. Eagle,

    I wish you would not have given up on Christ. I too have pretty much given up on organized religion and those who call themselves followers.
    I have a radio show in a small market one night a week in East Texas with a ” Preacher’s Kid” who has a hard time with organized religion too. The program started out as a show on Texas politics, but with our backgrounds,( I’m a Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Alumni.) we have migrated into religion and politics. Two literal dynamite topics.
    We are amazed at the people in the “Bible Belt” who are battered, bruised, ostracized by the church.
    We have come to the point that we have to stay strong in the faith and that these charlatans in the church are not going to end our faith, and let those out there having the same trouble know that they are not alone.

  40. Nicholas – Muff can speak for himself, but I can tell you that this 56-y.o. ELCA member believes in *substitutionary* atonement (not-Calvinist/calvinista versions of “penal substitution). Further, i do not believe in the doctrine of original sin *as it was developed post-Augustine.* (In fact, i think Augustine’s version is lacking, and he’s pretty early.) For that matter, neither do the Greek, Russian – and other – Orthodox churches.

    There is lots more to xtianity than what is believed in the Western churches, and there are substantial differences post-schism (“schism” referring to the split between the Eastern and Western branches of the church in 1054).

    another thought: since we can’t see each other (this not being video chat :)), you might not know that there’s a real span of ages represented here (ages of commenters, that is). I can tell you that I was so much more certain about many doctrines, etc. when I was in my teens and 20s than now. Chalk it up to life, experiences of difficult times (we all have them), and freedom to think and decide for myself after several decades of being told what to believe.

    If anything, my Lutheran upbringing has stood me in good stead, re. having a place to go back to and considerably more freedom – spiritually and intellectually – than was ever the case when I was in charismatic/evangelical circles.

  41. …because Revelation is so clear and literal.

    Hester – heeheehee. Yes, all apocalyptic literature with repetitive imagery that keeps restating the same thing in different ways is meant to be taken literally. (I wonder if the writer of Revelation would agree with the current interpretations of literal/literality? Somehow, I’m guessing “not.”)

    the interesting thing is that until very recent times, Revelation was understood to be an allegorical book speaking about the persecution of the church … by the Roman empire.

    But hey, if that view were accepted by a lot of xtian culture, well, nobody would be able to make big bucks on “left behind”-type books and assorted merchandise, and everyone would consign Hal Lindsey’s The Late, Great Planet Earth to the dustbin of history. (Not that lots of us haven’t done that already!)

    I can recall being overwhelmed by all the – to me – extremely strange views I started running into in evangelical circles: dispensationalism, the Rapture, all of it. It was like visiting a country where I didn’t understand the language at all.

  42. @numo

    Lutheranism indeed has a very strong intellectual tradition, inherited from the medieval church. It is quite the opposite of what we see in evangelical/low church circles.

  43. @ Numo:

    Somehow there’s still a copy of Lindsey’s The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon in our LCMS church library. Doesn’t look like it’s been opened since about 1980, either. I have no idea how it got there and I suspect someone needs to do some housecleaning. ; )

  44. Hester – Maybe people harbor a sentimental attachment to it because it reminds them of their youth? ;)

  45. Nicholas – that depends on what you mean by “low church.” I would hardly tag Methodists and “low church” Anglicans as anti-intellectual. ;)

  46. Everyone, I’ve made a mistake! Kevin DeYoung’s friend is not the same Doug Phillips who runs Vision Forum! Sorry!

  47. Here’s a good article on Dake: http://www.equip.org/articles/dakes-dangerous-doctrine/ — Nicholas

    Let’s just say some 40 or so years ago, Dake’s Annotated Bible and I had a rather dubious relationship.

    Remember that “Gospel According to Hal Lindsay” end-of-the-world cult I was mixed up in back in the Seventies? Well, the Dake’s was their KJV1611-equivalent. I remember it having four columns — the inner two the actual Bible (KJV, I think) and the outer two Dake’s verse-by-verse notes in psychotically-small print reminiscent of a Francis E Dec rant. Nobody I knew read the actual Bible columns — they all went for Dake’s outer-column kook rant notes.

    Some of the more bizarre stuff I remember about it:
    1) God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are embodied in three bodies made of “spirit matter” (not otherwise explained). Their Thrones are on a planet called “Heaven” in the northern skies. (Sounds kind of Mormon — “If ye could hie to Kolob…”)
    2) God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and all the angels and demons are MALE. All of them. Females were created only so physical beings could reproduce and that’s it. (Can’t remember if women resurrect as male or not, but it wouldn’t surprise me.)
    3) Several rants in the Torah about “the Principle of Segregation”. I kept thinking of George C Wallace and “Segregation Now, Segregation Forever!” (Wondered if Dake was from the Former Confederate States and when he wrote his notes. I suspected late 19th Century to early 20th.)
    4) End-of-the-world choreography followed Dispy Secret Rapture chronology, but with some twists I don’t remember in detail. Centerfold Rapture/Tribulation chart which I remember as pretty standard.
    5) Christ’s words “But if someone comes in his own name, him you accept” interpreted as a Prophecy of the Coming Antichrist instead of Jesus getting sarcastic.
    6) No “harmony of the Gospels”; if the same event was described with any variation between two of the Gospels, it refers to TWO different events. No accounting for minor eyewitness discrepancies.
    7) And this overall obsessiveness with reconciling every word of the Bible hyper-literally. More so than Darby. Distinct vibe of serious OCD.

    When I described the Dake’s long-after-the-fact to a friend of mine, his response was “This Dake might have started out sane, but he sure didn’t end up that way!”

  48. Unfortunately for Dispensationalists, their theology has an expiration date…literally. Its original definition of “generation” was 40 years, and they claimed the end would come 40 years after Israel got its land back (as the generation that saw this happen would not pass away per Matthew 24:34). Israel got its land back in 1948 and the original prediction (see 88 Reasons the Rapture Will Be in 1988) was a huge flop. — Hester

    Edgar Weisenhaunt’s 1988 “88 Reasons” Rapture Scare. My writing partner got completely taken in by it. That’s what cured him of Left Behind Fever. (I had my last flashbacks around the same time.)

    Oh, the “1948 – count forward 40 years (a Bible Generation) to 1988 – count back seven for The Tribulation – 1981!!! THIS IS IT!!!!” predates Weisenhaunt. I remember it from that 67th book of the Bible, Late Great Planet Earth. And the date DID coincide with the 1981 astrological Jupiter Effect Earth-Changes Scare.

    Incidentally, Weisenhaunt followed up his 88 Reasons Why the Rapture WILL Happen in 1988! the next year with a sequel: 89 Reasons Why the Rapture WILL Happen in 1989!. Sales of the sequel tanked for some reason.

    Or – if you ask 12 dispensationalists who all take Revelation “in the clear literal sense,” you will get 12 different narratives of the end times…because Revelation is so clear and literal. — Hester

    And each of the 12 Dispys denouncing the other 11 as Heretics. Though Hal Lindsay’s choreography of Darby has become somewhat of a consensus. My writing partner credits the two with “destroying Protestant Christianity in America.”

  49. Here’s a good article on Dake: http://www.equip.org/articles/dakes-dangerous-doctrine/ — Nicholas

    DID YOU CATCH THIS PART OF THAT ARTICLE?

    “During Dake’s ministry in Zion, he was the center of a raging controversy. In 1937, he was convicted of violating the Mann Act by willfully transporting 16-year-old hitchhiker Emma Barelli across the Wisconsin state line “for the purpose of debauchery and other immoral practices.”6 Dake pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months in a Milwaukee jail…7″

    That remind you of any preacher-man we’ve seen polishing a shaft recently on WWW?

    “Oh, the more it changes
    The more it stays the same;
    And the Hand just rearranges
    The players in the game…”
    – Al Stewart, “Nostradamus”, 1973

  50. Nicholas,

    I can surely respect your belief system with regard to the penal substitution aspect of classical theology, but I no longer hold to the doctrine, nor its companion generator, original sin.

    1) I believe that Jesus is divine and born of Mary with no human male DNA involved in his conception, and that it was immaculate.

    2) I believe that Jesus’ death by crucifixion was because the vineyard hirelings (religious Jewry) hated him and were jealous of him as the vineyard owners son and that the Romans were more than happy to provide the means of execution.

    3) I believe that Jesus rose bodily from the dead, ate grilled fish with his friends, and that he will also return to Earth bodily at some point in the future to put things right.

    In my opinion, both original sin & penal substitution rely on a particular viewing angle of Scripture (Torah). One that is rigidly deterministic & skewed by Hellenism. One that can only be this, never that, and certainly not the other.

    If the Almighty requires that I consciously agree to it, I cannot, for to do so would go against my conscience as a human being. I have a hope for a better resurrection, not an assurance, there is a difference.

  51. @ HUG:

    It’s funny, different brands of Christianity seem to have different flavors of doomers. Baptists/Bible church types favor Left Behind-style Dispensationalism, with rug-length prophecy charts and an obsessive focus on news from the Middle East. Calvinists have postmillenial Reconstructionist survivalists, who swear up and down that they’re ultimately optimistic, even though they’re stockpiling ammo, gas and wheat berries in their basement, forecasting the oil production collapse/bird flu/hyperinflation, etc., and reading a book about how to install military fortifications on their house.

    I suppose it really is much cheaper to be Dispensationalist…no need to stow away a year’s worth of food when you’re getting raptured out. ; )

  52. @ HUG:

    Speaking of said doomers and Defenders of the South…what happens if we put them together? Doug Wilson saying the outcome of the election was God’s judgment, and we should all pull our kids from public school so they’re not educated by people who are “soft in the head”:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/11/douglas-wilson-responds-to-the-election.html

    Ah…the typical Wilsonian profoundly unfunny snark. Anybody care to venture a guess as to what a “bitch goddess” is? Inquiring minds want to know. Best guess so far comes from one of commenters on the above article:

    “I’m just mentally envisioning a bunch of gigantic, supernatural female labrador retrievers sitting on some clouds, trying to figure out ways to help the humans, but constantly getting distracted by balls and squeaky toys and squirrels.”

  53. Hester –

    Or – if you ask 12 dispensationalists who all take Revelation “in the clear literal sense”, you will get 12 different narratives of the end times… because Revelation is so clear and literal.

    That’s what happens when your God is a book. (Sorry to sound like a stuck record there.)

    I kind of like the way Paul rounds off 2 Corinthians; the prayer is so catchy that it’s been incorporated liturgically in many traditions:

    May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

    I’ve never seen any evidence for the fellowship of the holy scriptures.

  54. It’s funny, different brands of Christianity seem to have different flavors of doomers. — Hester

    In my church tradition, it’s the Three Dark Days and St Malachi’s List of Popes. Assuming of course you don’t get the details straight from Mary herself, with asides into Antichrist Papal Pretenders after Pius XII and Tridentine Latin Mass Uber Alles.

    You see, when Evangelicals flake out, it’s usually some form of Pin-the-Tail-on-The-Antichrist; when Catholics flake out, it’s usually some form of Mary Channeling.

  55. Speaking of said doomers and Defenders of the South…what happens if we put them together? Doug Wilson saying the outcome of the election was God’s judgment, and we should all pull our kids from public school so they’re not educated by people who are “soft in the head”: — Hester

    Or even worse — educated by ABOLITIONISTS!!!!! Plotting to take away our Peculiar Institution and Nigra Property!!!!!

    And of course, a N*****r President is God Punishing us White Folks. Leaving aside the question whether God does anything else these days but think up new ways to Punish Punish Punish, considering the Presidential “color”, why hasn’t Wilson died of a stroke by now?

    Ah…the typical Wilsonian profoundly unfunny snark. Anybody care to venture a guess as to what a “bitch goddess” is? Inquiring minds want to know. Best guess so far comes from one of commenters on the above article:

    “I’m just mentally envisioning a bunch of gigantic, supernatural female labrador retrievers sitting on some clouds, trying to figure out ways to help the humans, but constantly getting distracted by balls and squeaky toys and squirrels.”

    Only one thing to say to that: WOOF!

  56. I would suggest that the Bereans were well versed in the fellowship of the Holy Scriptures, as were the disciples, the early church and the Lord Jesus Himself.

    Regards
    Gavin

  57. This is such an educational place to be.

    The term “bitch goddess” was first coined by William James in a letter to H G Wells in 1906 – ” The moral flabbiness born of the bitch goddess SUCCESS. That- with the squalid cash interpretation put on the word success- is our national disease.”

    And so it passed into common usage.

    Regards
    Gavin

  58. Deb: Thank you for this post, for reprinting Julie’s post, and for including my video. Julie sent me to your blog, and I am glad she did. Keep up the good work!

    Gilion Dumas

  59. Gillon

    Welcome to TWW. As you will see, abuse is a big topic here. Thank you for all that you do.

  60. Gavin – we can agree to differ on terminology. Certainly, Jesus was well-versed in the scriptures (He Was while they were being written), the Bereans soon became so if they weren’t already (which they probably were); Paul studied them under Gamaliel (who, by all accounts, knew his scriptural onions). But fellowship is something you can only have with someone who thinks and feels.

    It so happens I’ve just watched the Bruce Lee film “Enter the Dragon”, with the splendid line: “Boards… don’t hit back”. That exchange, in which the Bad Guy theatrically punches a piece of wood in half, shortly before being pasted by Bruce, always reminds me of biblicism. The bible can’t stop itself from being misused, nor respond if and when it is.

    As I said at first; potayto potarto. We may be singing from similar hymn-sheets when all’s said and done!

  61. Nick
    I agree. It’s possibly your Southern Partick/Alloa accent that is confusing me! :-)
    Best wishes
    Gavin

    Thinking about it though, I don’t think I’ve ever “had fellowship” without a Bible being present.

  62. Thinking about it though, I don’t think I’ve ever “had fellowship” without a Bible being present. — Gavin White

    Problem is, in American Christianese, “Fellowship” (both noun and verb) has been defined so broadly it has lost any meaning it had. “Fellowshipping” (verb form) can mean any get-together as long as those getting together are Christians. And it often smells of one-upmanship over those Others’ get-togethers. Like so many other words in Christianese, it’s so overdone it needs a break.

  63. Speaking of Dr Instone-Brewer’s site, I like this comment:

    Only the victim, not the purpetrator of such sins, should decide when or whether to divorce.

    A principle that should be more widely trumpeted in the context of leaving a “church family” where a believer is troubled and unhappy. Especially as, whereas marriage per se has ample biblical authority, the self-contained and isolated congregation, defined by “membership covenant”, does not.

    Gavin – the irony is that I’m not from Alloa; indeed I’m from furth of Scotland fullstop. As for an Alloa accent, ah cannae dae wan’ae save mahsel. Your comment on fellowship invariably inolving a Bible being present… that gave rise to an interesting thought. I’m not disputing your experience, though I’d describe things slightly differently. The closest and deepest fellowship I’ve experienced has been when the bible has been present in the shape of fellow-believers who had read it and knew it well. If a physical paper bible was present, it was generally – on those occasions – used only to check the accuracy of our recollections.

  64. Hmm… followed that link, and I note the following two quotes:

    When members leave for insufficient reason, the fellowship of the church is broken, its witness is weakened, and the peace and unity of the congregation are sacrificed… We are called to love the church and to pray for its peace and unity, not to look for an opportunity to move to another congregation.

    Let me put that from another perspective.

    When pastors isolate “their” flocks from other local groups of believers for insufficient reason, the fellowship of the church is broken, its witness is weakened, and the unity and spiritual authority of the ecclesia are sacrificed. We are called to love the church and to pray for its peace and unity, not to look for an opportunity to promote our chosen denomination.

  65. It has come to my attention that many in the Reformed world, not just Piper, are vehemently opposed to divorce on the grounds of spousal abuse. Read the comments of “Turretinfan” here: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2012/10/grounds-for-divorce.html

    Turretinfan asks “What makes you think that a wife has greater rights than a slave?” and “Where in the Bible does it ever speak of a woman divorcing her husband?”

  66. What compels Turrentinfan to decide to believe that a wife is on the level of a slave. I smell a bitter man looking to gain control over (a female) someone else and trying to use the Bible as his club to beat that someone back into his control, er I mean under submission to him.

    Wow.

    And so many want to believe that deep bitterness is mostly a female problem.

  67. He’s also pretty much as Reformed as they come in my reading of him. It’s also a small world as I knew Steve Hays twenty years ago. I was anything BUT surprised to find out he took up blogging. :)

  68. Yes, fortunately Steve is able to give a good answer. I’d just be like, “Dude, are you going through an ugly divorce? Or was your mother some sort of psycho? Why are you hating on women so much that you gotta use God and the Bible to reduce them down to slavehood?”

    I’m glad Steve can argue the issue rather than get into the whys and WTHs (what the heck) of it.

  69. http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2012/10/divorce-part-1.html

    “Divorce is not the only thing the Lord hates. Given what God says about marriage in Eph 5 (to take one example), I’m sure that God also hates domestic violence.”

    another short excerpt from steve:

    “TFan doesn’t seem to grasp the nature of case law, even though I already went over that ground. OT case law is illustrative rather than exhaustive. It doesn’t cover every conceivable situation. Rather, when an issue arose which wasn’t specifically addressed in the Mosaic law, Jewish judges had to extrapolate from the nearest applicable law. So TFan’s argument from silence is fallacious.

    Notice that TFan doesn’t even attempt to show that my explanation of case law is false. He simply ignores it.”

    And then:

    “For a post entitled “Understanding Divorce from a Biblical Perspective,” I’m afraid don’t see the evidence that TFan has actually done his exegetical spadework. It seems to be more a matter of rote prooftexting to retroactively validate a foregone conclusion.”

    Ouch!! Not that I disagree with Steve about anything here but, yeah, T-Fan didn’t seem to come at this topic with a good handling of Mosaic case law. Anyone who’s read Triablogue knows steve can tackle case law longer than most people are willing to read a single blog post. ;-)

  70. OT case law … doesn’t cover every conceivable situation. Rather, when an issue arose which wasn’t specifically addressed in the Mosaic law, Jewish judges had to extrapolate from the nearest applicable law.

    A good point. Indeed, for any law to cover every conceivable situation, it would have to be more or less infinitely long. The endless variability of real life will throw up more and more exceptions, and there will always be loopholes and injustices: the guilty escaping on technicalities and the innocent convicted under anomalies.

    Moreover, “the rule of law” will always, ultimately, become “the rule of lawyers”, with the law merely used as a tool of the rich and powerful. It is disturbing to see that trend well-established in Reformed™ churches, with the influential (those who have used their leadership gifts to gain a wide following) using proof-texting techniques not only to establish their own status, but to oppress the weak and destroy those who oppose them. The same scriptures which all point towards, and are perfectly fulfilled in, Jesus himself, are being used to enslave people for whose freedom he gave his life.

  71. I think what Turretinfan (and others possibly) needs to realise is that the great man took a very reasonable and tolerant view of what constitutes divorce. (Elenctic Theology volume 2,p.16,24.).

    Regards
    Gavin

  72. Nicholas

    I think that John Piper believes that church should be able to make decisions on all aspects of life.He would claim to want to obey the law of the land but he does not truly believe that human society is capable of making adequate decisions. He would have been happy in Calvin’s of the Puriatn’s community in which even how many courses you could have with dinner was regulated.

  73. Nicholas

    Evan’s points out the connection between the slave passages and the female submission passages. So “What makes you think that a wife has greater rights than a slave?” Yet we claim to be against slavery.

  74. Nicholas

    Wow! I did not know about Turretinfan. i quickly reviewed the article in the link and was dismayed by his conclusions.

  75. I agree he’s off about OT law. And the thing is, in the matter of divorce it doesn’t really matter what his exegesis of the OT law is anyway. It matters what the first centry exegesis of the law was because it tells us the underlying assumptions were in the conversations Jesus and Paul had regarding divorce. And that is, all first century religious leaders agreed that a wife or husband could divorce for neglect on the basis that the OT allowed it for a slave wife. That is, they understood that if a females slave could do it, then of corse a female or male free person could as well.

    Since Jesus did not refute this view on divorce, we can assume he supported it.